Sunday 13 October 2019

Skerries residents 'in shock' as drive-thru appeal is thrown out

Opponents of plans to bring a drive-thru fast food restaurant to Skerries close to local schools and a créche have been left reeling at An Bord Pleanála's decision to reject an appeal against the proposal's planning permission, despite a recommendation to the contrary from its own planning inspector.

Cllr Joe O'Brien is part of a local committee of residents opposing the project. He said he was 'shocked and disappointed' at the decision.

Cllr O'Brien said: 'The community in Skerries is shocked and disappointed by this decision by ABP.

'When the HSE provided them with such strong arguments against a drive-thru fast food restaurant beside a school we were increasingly hopeful. But it is frankly bizarre and infuriating that they ignore the HSE advice, the detailed strong arguments made by the drive-thru committee, the school, the Community Association and the Irish Heart Foundation.

'On top of they have gone against the advice of their own inspector. Just to be 100% clear - this is not the end of the battle against this terrible idea for our community.'

The Irish Heart Foundation today expressed dismay at a decision by An Bord Pleanála to reject its appeal against plans for a drive-through fast food restaurant just 300 metres from a primary school in Skerries, County Dublin.'

Cllr Tom O'Leary has also set his face against the proposal and said the An Bord Pleanla decision was 'disappointing'.

He said: 'A judicial review of this decision should be considered and examined by the committee, maybe supported by the Heart Foundation if they think after a review by professional planning consultants and legal experts, that it is in the public interest to challenge this decision in the courts.'

The Irish Heart Foundation are also opponents of the proposal.

Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy with the Irish Heart Foundation, said the decision was a 'setback in the fight against Ireland's child obesity crisis',

He said: 'Some 75% of Irish schools have at least one and 30% have at least five fast food outlets within a kilometre of their gates.

'It's clear that many junk food restaurant chains deliberately cluster around schools to boost business.'

An Bord Pleanála says in its ruling that careful consideration was given to the 'appropriateness and location' of this outlet to local schools.

But Mr Macey said: 'We don't accept that - the proliferation of these restaurants close to locations where children live, learn and play is helping to drive our child obesity crisis and has to be urgently stopped.'

Mr Macey said the Irish Heart Foundation was calling on the Government to introduce no fry zone legislation that would prevent planning permission for all new hot food takeaways within one kilometre of primary and secondary schools.

He said: 'This is a measure that is evidence-based, supported by the public, cost free and, in association with other important measures, will help reduce overweight and obesity among our children. So if policymakers won't even do this, you'd have to ask what do they have the stomach for in protecting children's health in the midst of Ireland's obesity crisis.'

Fingal Independent